The Health and Social Care Act 2012 sets out a new responsibility for NICE to develop guidance and quality standards for social care. To reflect this new role, from 1 April 2013, NICE will be called the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

The legislation which sets out NICE's new remit for social care states that it must take into account “the broad balance between the benefits and costs” of care and people's “degree of need” for care. Accordingly, the question of which aspects of benefit, cost and need NICE should take into account in developing guidance in this area was on the agenda for discussion by the Citizens Council last month.

The Citizens Council, which has looked previously at incentives to promote individual behaviour change, patient safety, harm, reduction in smoking, and “only in research” recommendations, provides a useful snapshot for NICE of what the general public thinks about a range of issues where people might have widely differing opinions. The Citizens Council consists of a diverse group of 30 individuals who meet annually to hear expert information on various topics and discuss the issues raised. The council is a formal committee of NICE, which helps to identify broad social values and how NICE might consider them in preparing its guidance. For each topic discussed, the council's view is captured in reports which provide advice to NICE and its independent committees about aspects of methodology and process.

As NICE is working towards a way of integrating its development of health and social care standards and guidance, it is seeking the council's views on which of its current methods and processes apply to social care, which may need to be adapted and whether any new approaches need to be developed. To help explore these areas, the council will have been asked to consider questions such as “What does a good social care service look like?” and “What are the values that should be reflected in our social care services?”

A report on the council's views should shortly be available on the NICE website for public comment before the council submits a report to the board of NICE setting out its findings.